Colour Me Dead - Chapter 5

The Hungry Vagina - excerpt (3-screen compile) 4' 04", stereo mix © 2013


The Hungry Vagina is the 5th production in the 18-part series of films, animations and prints collectively titled Colour Me Dead. All the productions in this project are based on research which is forming the basis for the in-development book Colour Me Dead: Art, Sex & Psychos.

The Hungry Vagina is comprised of 15 digital animations, each based on a painting notable for some measure of symbolic vaginal content. The animations redraw the paintings so that their latent vaginas become blatantly manifest ones, with the animation depicting the vagina opening and closing in a vulgar display of ocular titillation. In its first incarnation, the animations of The Hungry Vagina are edited across 3 synchronized video screens, set into angled plinths at crotch height. Gentle moist suckling sounds accompany the animation's gaping lips.


All drawing & animation - Philip Brophy
Commissioned for the Vizard Foundation Contemporary Art Project


Colour Me Dead, Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne (Curated by Bala Starr)

The Hungry Vagina - 3-screen view © 2013


Accepting the ambiguous meld of aestheticism and eroticism at the heart of the female nude, it would seem inevitable that the vagina becomes a focus in illustrating sex and sexuality. Prior to the Romantic ethos, the nude was virtually an architectonic form: its intelligent design (by God in religious art, by nature in classical art) was always perceived as a totality comprised of parts which worked in unison to define ideals of integrated beauty. Pornographic impulses break the body apart for ulterior motives, constructing new hierarchies of formlessness, and in the process creating body parts and body fragments endowed with discrete erotic power.

As the nude became openly exploited as a machine for generating erotic exchange (art by name, but porn by effect), the vagina was increasingly cited as a ground zero of ocular attraction. This is so much so that one trajectory of nude portraiture charts how artists struggled to not paint vaginas—and in the process created hysterically symbolic labia, pudenda, moist lips and parted folds.

The Hungry Vagina fixates this insatiable drive to go dead centre, not according to any reductivist para-Freudian logic, but as a means of acknowledging the throbbing dynamo of energy emitted by the vagina. Here, unisexual applications of visual vagination are noted, as Romantic male artists are joined by modernist female artists to forego the whole and explore the hole.

The Hungry Vagina - 3-screen view © 2013



The The Hungry Vagina animation images were produced using 2 perceptual methods from early 20thC art. The first is the 'speed drawing' technique Henry Moore practiced when he attended drawing classes in Paris in his youth. The classes employed a series of exercises whereby the students were given strict time frames to sketch a life model: first within 5 minutes, then 2 minutes, and even down to 30 seconds. Moore's biomorphic forms, then, are as much the result of a metaphysical application of temporal parameters to frame perception rather then simply copying a visual reality perceived by the eye alone. The second is Salvidor Dali's infamous 'paranoic critical method' where he would contemplate a painting until he virtually hallucinated an overlaid or outgrowing form (or set of forms) which he would then note and realistically paint. Time was an inverse yet equally crucial factor with Dali, in that his extended meditations allowed him to perceive things beyond the visually evident.

After selecting the 15 paintings to be referenced (from around 100 influential paintings and sculptures), a series of drawing phases were applied. Having drawn the figure realistically in the 1st phase, the 2nd phase quickly redrew the figure to break it down into a set of elements. These elements were then redrawn speedily and loosely twice more (3rd and 4th phases), each time further exaggerating the vaginal content of the image. For some paintings, the vagina focus required some obtuse configuration, but mostly the vagina was apparent enough in the original painting. Then a careful diagram was drawn for the 5th phase, detailing the layering order for the vector drawing. This was the 'A' key frame for the animation. Finally, for the 6th phase, a 'B' key frame was drawn from the 'A' frame diagram.

These last two schematic diagrams were then scanned and redrawn as vector drawings in Freehand. Inbetweening of 100 steps was then applied to the discrete elements in layered stacks. The results were then exported as Shockwave files, imported into Flash for checks and re-sizing, then exported as Quicktimes and conformed in Final Cut Pro. The Animation codec was used in Final Cut Pro so that a hi-res custom frame rate of 50 frames per second could be applied. Standard animation generally runs at 25 frames per second with inbetween steps (the movement between 2 key frames) of around 4 to 12 steps. The Hungry Vagina animation runs at 50 frames per second with 100 frames of inbetweening between the 2 key frames. The final result is a movement from keyframe 'A' to 'B' and back again lasting 2 seconds. This is based on the animation procedure employed for 10 Transforming Youths and 10 Flaming Youths.

A minimal soundtrack of synchronized suckling sounds (close-miced saliva and lip movement) was then added to the animation.

The Hungry Vagina - 3-screen view © 2013


Development frames of each of the 6 phases for each of the 15 animations: